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Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem Hardcover – June 23, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4—Billy Twitters's parents don't mess around when doling out punishments. When the boy fails to clean his room, brush his teeth, and finish his baked peas, they buy him a blue whale. It arrives via FedUp (motto: "Delivering Punishment Worldwide"), and it's up to Billy to take care of it. Rex's goofy illustrations blend the realistic with the fantastic, as in a giant wordless spread of Billy pedaling furiously on his bike, towing the whale behind on a skateboard as the beast's bulk takes out telephone poles and traffic lights. At school, things don't improve; a teacher gives a whale lecture instead of showing a promised cowboy movie, and Billy is uninvited from a pool party when the hostess learns he would have to bring the cetacean. And he soon finds that gathering thousands of krill for its dinner is tough work. At last, after cleaning out the whale's stinky mouth, Billy decides that it's a pretty peaceful place, and he decides to move in. That's a strange ending for an odd story, but young readers will likely enjoy the ridiculous premise, and the many whale facts worked seamlessly into the tale.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

When his parents threaten to teach him responsibility by giving him a whale, Billy Twitters isn't worried: "It's not like you can just have one delivered to your house overnight." But he's wrong. Rex's (Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich) howler of a double-page spread shows an enormous trailer attached to a "FedUp" truck, an equally massive blue whale suspended from tow straps. Rex's Mad magazine style artwork-realistic enough to drive home the humor and full of clever touches-is the perfect choice for Barnett's high-concept debut. Billy hauls the whale to school behind his bike, a skateboard under the creature for easier sliding; confronts the school bully and the school geek (new allies, in league against him); and struggles with blue whale upkeep, like collecting 10,000 gallons of seawater at mealtime ("Try the ocean, son," his father suggests). Billy never names his whale-it's more of a burden than a pet. The abrupt ending disappoints somewhat, given the uproarious pages that precede it (the contributors also work in scientific information about blue whales-though readers, between laughs, may not notice). Still, tons of fun. PW"

Readers know what kind of place they are in when the endpapers include ads for giant-squid repellent and shrimp-of-the-month club and the author and illustrator snark at each other in the dedication. Billy Twitters's room looks much as one might expect: unmade bed, piles of dirty and clean clothes, video games, books, backpack and stuffed toys everywhere. Billy's mom tells him plainly that he's to clean up his room and finish his dinner or "we're buying you a blue whale." He doesn't, and they do. While Rex never reveals the faces of the adults, he does provide nicely detailed diagrams of the size and habits of the blue whale (from FedUp, "Delivering Punishment Worldwide"). Billy has to take his whale everywhere, even though the whale kind of wrecks the classroom and moves Alexis to un-invite Billy and the whale to her pool party. However, the prospect of feeding his whale inspires Billy to a damp and fishy but very boylike solution to the problem of both room-cleaning and whale-sitting. Definitely funny and slyly subversive. Kirkus"

A headlong plunge into surrealism ensues when Billy Twitters's parents punish him by giving him a blue whale. The cleverness is in the idea's literal-mindedness--Billy thinking "I feel like something's watching me" as he eats his cereal, one very large eye visible behind him, and then hauling the whale to school on his bicycle. It's not supposed to make sense, and, amusingly, it doesn't. NYTBR"

Billy Twitters's parents don't mess around when doling out punishments. When the boy fails to clean his room, brush his teeth, and finish his baked peas, they buy him a blue whale. It arrives via FedUp (motto: "Delivering Punishment Worldwide"), and it's up to Billy to take care of it. Rex's goofy illustrations blend the realistic with the fantastic, as in a giant wordless spread of Billy pedaling furiously on his bike, towing the whale behind on a skateboard as the beast's bulk takes out telephone poles and traffic lights. At school, things don't improve; a teacher gives a whale lecture instead of showing a promised cowboy movie, and Billy is uninvited from a pool party when the hostess learns he would have to bring the cetacean. And he soon finds that gathering thousands of krill for its dinner is tough work. At last, after cleaning out the whale's stinky mouth, Billy decides that it's a pretty peaceful place, and he decides to move in. That's a strange ending for an odd story, but young readers will likely enjoy the ridiculous premise, and the many whale facts worked seamlessly into the tale. Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD SLJ"
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786849584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786849581
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just bought this book for our 7 year old son and not only does he love it, but so does his 4 year old sister! Since we got it, she's been asking me to read it to her every night at bedtime! What an original story and the illustrations are fantastic! The story is something that the kids find amusing but, at the same time, it's educational. Even I learned some new things about blue whales!! Bottom line...this book has something for everyone of all ages. I highly recommend it!
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Format: Hardcover
What if Mom and Dad taught you responsibility by giving you a pet-- Whale!?
This book is GREAT! It takes exaggeration literally, and goes big, stretching reality in a way that reminds me of Roald Dahl. The book nudges the Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Danny and the Dinosaur genre, and says, really? Doesn't a pet that big smell pretty foul? And isn't it pretty inconvenient feeding your pet, say, 10,000 gallons of sea water daily? I laugh aloud every time I read it. The illustrations are vast, vivid, and just as clever as the text.
Don't miss the special offer under the dust jacket!
"Send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope (we call it a S.A.S.E.!) and we'll send you a blue whale.
What?!
My S.A.S.E. is in the mail!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this for my 2.5-year-old, because she is obsessed with whales at the moment. I bought almost every semi-age-appropriate whale book on Amazon (there aren't as many as you'd think). I have to admit that the illustrations in this book are pretty incredible; they're definitely the best part. But the story itself leaves something to be desired (in my opinion), at least for younger kids. There are depictions of bullying and other kids generally being mean to each other, without any underlying message of "...and that's a bad way to act." The book is page after page of people being mean or unsympathetic to the main character (including his parents), or his life being miserable in some way, until he is ready to run away. And then he decides to move into the "stinky, sweaty fish, gym sock smelling" whale's mouth to escape his problems. I'm sorry to say that I actually hid this book from my daughter after reading it several times!

The good parts: 1) the illustrations, like I said above 2) the book is definitely educational and taught my daughter a number of facts about whales 3) she loved it!!! But I was uncomfortable every time I read it to her. If she were 8 and not 2 that might be different.
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Format: Hardcover
This book will have readers of all ages laughing hysterically at Billy Twitters' predicament. Younger kids will love the silly illustrations and the wonderful details of childhood, while their parents will also appreciate the book's sly sense of humor. Don't forget to order your own Blue Whale - just check inside the dust jacket.
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Format: Hardcover
It's hard to decide on a favorite thing about this book.

The illustrations are amazing -- so expressive and funny and detailed.

The story line is a hoot -- buying a kid a blue whale to teach him responsibility.

The size of the book and the quality -- this is a BIG book.

It's hard to find a book that a babysitter and a kindergartener will both love. This book does it. Not to mention -- grown ups enjoy it, too.

There are a few bits of humor tossed into the illustrations that just really make this a five-star:

+ the end papers look like old-time Sears & Roebuck advertisements for products, but of course they are all nautical and hilarious. (Captain Sheepshank's Big Old Anchors: "We're Going Nowhere Fast")
+ A "Cetacean of a Tale"
+ Mom fumes and her head is a storm cloud. The parents' faces are covered with the words coming out of their mouths. That's a clever touch.
+ Jacques Cousteau
+ The delivery service is FedUp -- delivering punishments worldwide
+ Jacques Cousteau!
+ The whale gets sprayed with graffiti while Billy is at school.
+ The fold-out whale care instruction booklet looks like airplane emergency cards -- nice touch.
+ Barnacles

The ending is so great. Don't hesitate to get this one. It would make a great birthday gift for any kid -- ages 5 to dead, as my kids say.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was about a boy, Billy Twitters, who did not do what his mom asked him to do. As punishment, his mom got him blue whale. She thought this would teach Billy to be more responsible.

I liked this book because it was a good mix of fantasy and fact. The author is funny, but he also teaches the reader some true things about whales. The pictures were good, the story was unpredictable, and mostly it was funny - especially when Billy tried to take the whale to school with him by dragging him along on a skateboard.

I did have a little bit of trouble connecting how getting a blue whale could be punishment. I love whales and would never clean my room or listen to my mom if it meant I could have a whale.

Boys and girls of elementary school-age who like whales would enjoy reading this book because it covers topics that all children enjoy.

Overall, I would give this book 5 stars.

Review by Young Mensan Summer H., age 6
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